NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – During college, millions of students are forced to take out loans to pay for tuition.
However, many kids cannot get a loan on their own and rely on a parent or relative to be a co-signer.
While federal loans typically don’t require a co-signer, most private loans do.
According to a 2012 report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, about 90 percent of new private student loans are co-signed.
Experts say even if borrowers are current on their payments, some graduates are being placed in default.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, some are even being ordered to repay the loan in full because a co-signer can no longer back them financially.
Officials say that happens when the co-signer on the loan dies or files for bankruptcy.
“Students often rely on parents or grandparents to co-sign their private student loans to achieve the dream of higher education,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said. “When tragedy triggers an automatic default, responsible borrowers are thrown into financial distress with demands of immediate repayment.”
The ability to place a borrower in default is included as a clause in private student loan contracts.
As a result, borrowers who were in good standing are now complaining of damaged credit scores and being barraged by debt collection calls.
The bureau says people should immediately contact their lender to request the co-signer be released from the loan if he or she has passed away or filed for bankruptcy.
Some loan services will only remove a co-signer once you make a certain number of consecutive, on-time payments, or they will require a credit check.